The destruction of property and injuries resulting from a cat’s scratching are problematic. But is the situation so hopeless that there is no other solution except declawing? If that is the case, what are the pros and cons of declawing cats?
As an elective procedure, declawing has more disadvantages than advantages for a cat. On the positive side, declawing stops injuries, protects property and prevents cats from being abandoned at shelters. However, the pain, surgical complications, balance issues and emotional stress are just some of the reasons why you shouldn’t declaw your cat.
However, this does not mean you should just let things be as they are! This article will discuss the pros and cons of declawing cats and help you find out suitable alternatives to declawing.
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Pros and Cons of Declawing Cats
Declawing is still a subject of much controversy. While technically it’s a form of mutilation, this procedure has many supporters and is still widely performed.
Decision to declaw your cat should not be taken lightly. Even if you have the slightest hesitation, don’t do it!
And whatever your reasoning is, knowing the pros and cons of declawing cats will help you make a decision that is in the best interest of your cat.
Cons of Declawing Cats
Declawing brings little or no medical benefit for the cat. While convenient for owners, this procedure can be detrimental to a cat’s overall well-being. Disadvantages of declawing cats are listed below.
1. Surgical Complications
All surgical procedures come with a risk and declawing is no different. Most commonly seen complications include hemorrhaging, infection, reopening of the wound, and temporal paralysis.
Declawing requires the removal of the claw, which also means surgically amputating the distal phalanx. Obviously, this is extremely painful, and pain meds are necessary before, during and after the procedure.
A general anesthetic may be used depending on how many fingers are going to be declawed. However, as cats are very good at tolerating pain it can be hard to determine how uncomfortable they really are.
However, while some cats seem better in two days, many show symptoms of pain long after the procedure.
3. Emotional Stress
There is no way of emotionally preparing cats for the effects of this procedure. Hence it’s hard to guess how they feel once they wake up without claws. A majority of cats need time to adjust and will continue to perform scratching action long after declawing.
4. Weakened Self-defense
Cats use their claws to interact with other cats and animals. Once declawed they can’t defend themselves in fights. A cat will also not be able to play the same way as before.
5. Balance Issues
Once declawed, your cat won’t be able to rely on her claws to maintain balance. Due to this, most cats show signs of instability after the surgery. It can take a while for a cat to learn how to maintain balance and physically adjust to life without claws.
If a cat had aggression issues, declawing won’t make it better. Declawing only makes a cat less destructive. In some cases, cats even learned how to use their teeth and started biting instead of scratching.
7. Behavioral Issues
The pain experienced after this procedure can lead to several behavioral problems in cats. Not using the litter box, is the most common since using it puts a cat in additional pain. Most cats stop using the litter box and start peeing all over the house and furniture.
The tendons that are cut during this procedure can cause a cat to develop arthritis. This means that your cat will be in pain for the rest of her life.
Pros of Declawing Cat
In some cases, declawing can benefit a cat physically. But this is only if a cat had a pre-existing medical condition. Let’s take a look at some of the potential benefits of declawing cats.
1. Protects Property
Even irregular bouts of cat scratching can cause significant damage to furniture and property. In cases of excessive and persistent scratching, declawing will protect your property.
2. Stops Injuries
Your cat may try to claw at you, family members or guests. This can happen due to several reasons like lack of socialization, fear or aggression and cause serious injuries. When declawed, a cat can still try to swipe at you, but it won’t be able to cause any harm.
3. Better Relationship
Destruction of property and infliction of injuries can cause resentment and avoidance of the cat. In this case, declawing can serve as a way to help cats and their owners spend more time together and form a better relationship.
4. Prevents Euthanasia and Abandonment
Excessive scratching is one of the main reasons why owners decide to abandon their cats in shelters. However, most shelters are already full of unwanted pets.
So most of these abandoned cats get euthanized. If a cat’s scratching is so out of hand, declawing may be a better option than leaving a cat to be put down in a shelter.
Alternatives to Declawing Cats
As you can see, declawing is a serious procedure that poses more risk than benefits for your cat in the long run. So, you should consider all the alternatives and decide to declaw only after everything else fails. Here are the 6 best alternatives to declawing cats.
1. Training Your Cat
Training is a much more effective alternative for kittens. It involves redirecting a misbehaving feline to a toy or scratching post. However, you can also train adult cats. Just be prepared to spend some more time training them!
2. Using Nail Caps
Cat nail caps are vinyl covers that create a barrier between cat’s claws and any surface they touch. They don’t affect normal feline behavior and most cats get used to them after a few days. Read our article on the best nail caps for cats before getting nail caps for your kitty.
Keep in mind that nail caps aren’t a permanent solution. You will have to replace them regularly every few weeks. Learn how to apply cat nail caps properly so that they don’t fall off within a day or two.
3. Trimming Nails
Nail trimming is less effective. But still a widely chosen alternative to declawing cats. Just make sure that you trim the nails as short as possible.
This method, however, won’t stop a cat from scratching or prevent her from sharpening her claws on your furniture. On the bright side, your cat won’t be able to create significant damage with short nails.
4. Buying Scratching Posts & Toys
Most cats start to scratch furniture because they don’t have adequate options. To increase your chances of success, only choose toys and scratching posts that your cat will find interesting and fun.
5. Pheromone Sprays & Diffusers
You should consider using feline pheromone sprays or diffusers if you think that your cat’s excessive scratching is caused by stress or anxiety. Apply pheromones on the areas or objects where your cat has exhibited unwanted scratching.
6. Appropriate Environmental Enrichment
Although we keep them as indoor pets, all cats are curious, natural-born hunters and explorers. A cat that is not provided with appropriate environmental enrichment is bound to scratch and develop other behavioral problems.
Hence, try to create a fun and engaging environment for your feline by investing in a cat tree, appropriate scratching post and toys. It is less likely for cats to scratch or become destructive when they are in a suitable environment.
Should You Declaw Your Cat?
The outcome of declawing is very appealing if you have first-hand experience with injuries and destruction of property. However, declawing won’t deal with the reasons behind the destructive scratching.
There are many safer alternatives that you can try to stop unwanted scratching. Declawing should be done, only when nothing else works and only after you have checked all the facts.
Understanding the pros and cons of declawing cats will help you make an informed decision having your cat’s best interests at heart. If in the end, you have a shred of a doubt, then forego declawing and try a humane way to deal with your cat’s scratching.